10K grant supports new riverfront bike, mobility center

What do politics, cycling, charitable support and BMX stunts have in common? They were all part of a riverfront celebration of new funds to help Cincinnati Parks build a bike and family-friendly Smale Riverfront Park.

At the event, representatives of Coca-Cola presented a $10,000 grant to build a bike and mobility center at the park. Park visitors will be able to rent bikes and equipment, and bike commuters will have a safe place to shower and store their cycling gear.

"It's just going to be phenomenal what that park is going to do for connecting Cincinnati," says Coca-Cola Vice-President of Sales Mark Rahiya, Sr.

Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, an avid marathoner, sees the facility as a powerful tool to help fight the growing problem of unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles by making it easier for families to take part in active recreation. "We have to find ways to get people excited about becoming mobile," she says.

One of the event's keynote speakers, professional BMX rider Bill Nitschke, pointed out that cycling goes far beyond simply getting people in shape. "When we're on a bike, we get to slow down in this fast-paced world and see what we want to see," he says. "This center's going to help a lot of people out, more than you can imagine."

Cincinnati Parks Director Willie Carden accepted the grant, and then noted another grant program from the beverage manufacturer: the 'America is your Park' campaign that will award a $100,000 grant to a park or park system that receives the most votes by Sept. 6. Rather than calling for Cincinnatians to vote for the city's park system, he asked that they vote for the Minot, North Dakota, park system. Many of that system's parks suffered heavy damage this summer due to massive flooding.

"We have huge hearts in Greater Cincinnati," he said. "I want those to support them."

By Matt Cunningham
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